Wednesday, May 03, 2006

TLA Conference Notes: Day 2, Contributed Paper on Information Literacy Retention

Title: "Igniting the Passion for Information Literacy: A Retention Program and Study."
Presenter: Scott Lancaster, education librarian, Texas A&M-Commerce and David Rankin, social sciences and GovDocs librarian, Texas A&M-Commerce.

The presenters began their research by looking at work done on the topic at Ohio State on freshmen information literacy knowledge. This was used as a model.

In Fall 2003, the presenters did a pretest and a post-test evaluating the use of databases, OPAC, obtaining an item on reserve. The post-test was to determine if they could indeed use the library resources.

In Fall 2004, they created a different assignment, modifying SearchPath, a tool out of West Michigan University, and TILT. They covered areas of starting an assignment, picking a topic, using the OPAC, finding articles, using the World Wide Web, and citing sources. They also created a bibliography assignment at this time. The task was to build a bibliography out of five sources, print and online sources. The students had to find the items and then put the citations in MLA format. They found that the students were not very happy or successful with this particular assignment. Only about 75% reported a success with the bibliography task.

In Fall 2005, they dropped the bibliography assignment. They created new quiz modules. The topics covered included selecting sources, Boolean operators, focusing on "and" and "or," narrowing a topic, choosing keywords and phrases, and reading a citation. They found, interestingly, that the quiz question on dissecting a citation had a pretty high miss rate, so clearly how to read a citation was something to address. Other things that needed to be addressed included the difference between the OPAC and the databases, the boolean operator "OR."

A problem in information literacy education is finding vocabulary that students understand. In other words, our professional lingo can be a problem (tell me about it). On citations, the presenters suggested moving students towards more use of citation machines (I personally would not rush into this given concerns over accuracy. I have an upcoming article note on citation generators, so readers can learn a bit more).

In terms of logistics, the librarian providing instruction would go to the classroom and provide the pretest. The BI took place shortly after, within a week or so. The post-test was pretty much after the BI.

(Overall, this was an interesting presentation. It gave me some food for thought for possibilities in my setting. I certainly would like to conduct some assessment along these lines for my program.)

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